One of the nice things about being a photographer is that as you develop your film and make proof sheets, you get to relive the entire experience… but from afar in time and distance. Photographs you don’t remember taking (hopefully this is not an age-related issue) are revealed and you now see for real what you thought you originally saw.
So, with many rolls of film to process and proof, I set about to see if any of it made sense. (Sidebar – as I write this, Kodak, who helped out tremendously with a generous grant of film for this book, has sadly filed for bankruptcy.) This was going to take some time, but as it progressed, I would be able to see it taking shape or so I had hoped. This would be interesting. From the negatives I developed, I could see that my cameras all worked flawlessly. That’s a plus. From the proof sheets, I could see all were in focus. Plus #2. We’re on a roll now.
Several months and a lot of hours later and many gallons of photo chemicals and numerous sheets of photographic paper, I saw the results. My intention was to go up there and find and photograph a culture isolated by geography but still connected to the world. Got that and in spades. Plus #3. But, it wasn’t right.
The pictures were good. They conveyed the isolation I was seeking. But as I looked at them repeatedly, I came to the realization that there was no core to them, no story, no reason for being. They could be little more than Bruce’s Wonderful Trip to Newfoundland. If there was a story to be told, this didn’t do it. All the planning, research, and actual work had not produced what I wanted.
However, not seeing what you were after can often lead to learning what you need. These photographs were good and could be used… along with others yet to be taken. I needed to go back.